LEADERS TO SEA- 10 Things I’ve learned About the U.S. Navy
The Naval Surface Force’s Leaders to Sea program organizes a day at sea for civilians, educating influential community members and thought leaders on the Navy’s important role in ensuring our country’s maritime safety. While I continue to learn new things about the Navy every day, here are a few of my initial impressions:
1) Respect is expected. I may be from the South, but I’m still getting used to being called ma’am. Always extremely respectful, Sailors sign their emails with “very respectfully,” and submit directives by saying “respectfully request.” Hmm, I think other organizations could take some tips from the Navy…
2) There’s no such thing as a normal workday. It turns out that Sailors work whenever there’s work to be done. With a worried expression, I’ve asked, “wait, you want me there at 0530… meaning 5:30 in the morning… is that right?” Since I’ve always had sleep problems, I’m extremely envious of Sailors’ trained ability to fall asleep anywhere, any time (even after drinking the strongest coffee known to man).
3) Being on a ship makes me feel high-maintenance. Taking a tour of the sleeping quarters and restrooms made me wonder where all my unnecessary possessions would be housed. And would I completely slam my head into the rack above me if I suddenly sat up in bed?
4) A melting pot community. One thing I discovered (and love) about the Navy is that it’s made up of men and women of varying ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. A true representation of the country it serves. And as a woman, I especially appreciate that there are so many esteemed women across the ranks. HOOYAH, ladies!
5) A city afloat. It seems obvious that ships would include everyday commodities such as a retail shop, barber shop and ATM. Only I’d never thought about a store on a warship before (definitely nice during deployments, I assume). They even have their own currency, “Navy Cash” on board.
6) These things are huge! I’ve seen Navy ships off the coast of Coronado before, but walking around their maze-like hallways is a completely different experience. On the larger ships I often forget that we’re moving, and on some of the smaller ships I’m reminded by swells that I am, in fact, in the middle of the ocean.
7) The national anthem rules. Every morning and afternoon the song associated with our country’s freedom is played over loudspeakers on military bases. I’ve never felt more patriotic than standing near service members saluting the flag they so fiercely defend. It feels like Independence Day every day.
8) Full-service hospital. I had heard of hospital ships before, but didn’t know that warships came equipped with medical facilities, triage areas, an ICU, and even a dental suite. I was happy to see that this kind of medical care was so readily available to our naval service.
9) Technologically advanced. The cutting-edge technology used by the Intelligence staff on board is mind blowing. Their ability to pinpoint a single house in a heavily populated area and determine the best travel route to get there is, well, impressive.
10) Gator Navy. I never knew the Navy and Marines worked so closely together to carryout missions. Amphibious warfare ships help embark, transport and land Marines (and their vehicles, too). At any given time, a surplus of 1,000 Marines could join Sailors on board. Sounds crowded, huh?
Kai Oliver-Kurtin is the social media director at Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet in San Diego, Calif. As a civilian employee, Kai can be found meandering around ships on the waterfront, conducting social media training to Sailors and their family members, and—of course—glued to her pink iPhone writing status updates and tweets.